Move over, Atlanta.
The Arizona Diamondbacks have secured the potential face of their franchise for most of the next decade, extending top prospect Corbin Carroll for eight years and $111 million, with a ninth-year club option that could bringing the total value of the deal to $134. millions
The contract for the 22-year-old five-tool player, who has played in all 32 big league games, might have turned more heads if it weren’t for the Braves, making the practice of extending talented players before arbitration now seem usual
Carroll’s new deal is the largest for any major league player with less than 100 days of service. It breaks the eight-year, $72 million extension the Braves gave 21-year-old Michael Harris II last August, not just three months into Harris’ major league career. It was definitely a great three months.
Harris, the youngest player in the majors at the time, won Rookie of the Year honors in a 5.3-WAR season. His deal bought out all of his arbitration years plus at least three years of free agency. The Diamondbacks are doing something similar with Carroll, who should be the front-runner for the Rookie of the Year award in 2023 and will now stick with the Diamondbacks for at least his first two free agent seasons.
It took more to do, but it’s a win for the D-backs and for Carroll, who heads an electrifying core of young players in Arizona.
If Carroll is as good as the Diamondbacks and many evaluators believe, the extension will be a steal considering what he would do in free agency. An Arizona team with the lowest payroll in their division will have locked up a potential MVP level player during his prime.
For Carroll, who has 115 major league plate appearances and missed most of the 2021 season with a shoulder injury, he gets the stability and security of a nine-figure payday while still getting online to win. another in his 30s if he plays to his potential.
Of course, there is a risk in handing a deal of this magnitude to a player with such a limited major league resume.
The Diamondbacks hadn’t granted a pre-arbitration extension since signing Ketel Marte to five years and $24 million in 2018, when Marte was first set to be eligible for arbitration. The only other time they handed out a nine-figure deal was to Zack Greinke, when they signed the proven 32-year-old to a six-year, $206.5 million deal. But the commitment shows what the Diamondbacks think of their dynamic young outfielder, who was called up last August.
Carroll was the fastest hitter in the big leagues last season and posted an .830 OPS during his brief upswing, offering a glimpse of his abilities. His arrival was not out of necessity. The D-backs already had Daulton Varsho and younger standouts in Jake McCarthy and Alek Thomas running the field. But Carroll was ready, which is all the more remarkable considering the 2019 first-round pick missed a minor league season in 2020 due to the pandemic and played just seven games in High-A and two in rookie league ball in 2021 before. undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery.
Last year was his first season playing above High-A. It grated on every level. Now, it is earning more than 100 million dollars.
And it wouldn’t be surprising if the trend continued.
Last year, in addition to Atlanta’s deal for Harris, the Braves also extended All-Star Austin Riley, 25, for 10 years and Spencer Strider, 24, for six. Riley was not eligible for free agency until after the 2025 season. Strider was not eligible until after the 2027 season.
Just one day before the Carroll deal, the Washington Nationals extended catcher Keibert Ruiz for eight years and $50 million. Ruiz, 24, was not eligible for arbitration until 2025.
Teams are realizing the value of keeping their best young talent in place during their free agent years.
The Diamondbacks now have three outfielders 25 or younger in Carroll, McCarthy and Thomas, a promising young catcher they traded for in 23-year-old Gabriel Moreno, and a bevy of pitching prospects in Ryne Nelson, Drey Jameson and Brandon Pfaadt who soon they should be. affecting its rotation. Recent top picks Jordan Lawlar and Druw Jones will enter the fold at some point down the stretch.
Carroll will be the face of this youthful movement in Arizona, one that could have the Diamondbacks contending for a playoff spot sooner rather than later, even in a division as treacherous as the NL West.
Rowan Kavner covers the Dodgers and NL West for FOX Sports. He previously served as editor of the Dodgers’ digital and print publications. Follow him on Twitter at @Rowan Kavner.
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